Philharmonik tips and tricks!

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Ok, now that Philharmonik has been out a little while, I thought I'd start a tips and tricks thread! Little (or big!) things that can help get the most out of the instrument. I'll start with a couple:

Velocity switched articulations
This can be a useful alternative to the AMV patches (or even used in conjunction with them!). Probably the most commonly useful configuration would be legato strings, switching to staccato or detache at higher velocities. This makes it really easy to play a line and intuitively have long, flowing legato phrases interspersed with short staccato notes or detache notes for faster runs or more attack.
  1. To set it up, simply load the legato strings (I like the 11 violins, personally) onto one part, and the matching staccato into the next part. Set them both to respond to the same midi channel (click and drag on the black channel number to the left of the solo/mute buttons).
  2. Go to the range settings for the first part (the button is just to the left of the "Env 1" button). We'll be focussing on the "Vel Lo" and "Vel Hi" controls - they limit the velocities that the part will respond to.
  3. Set the legato strings so that Vel Lo=0 and Vel Hi=72. Set the staccato strings so that Vel Lo=73 and Vel Hi=127.
Now play! when you play at lower velocities, you'll get the lovely legato strings. When you want to play a fast run, simply play with higher velocity. This works especially will with Philharmonik because the two sample sets match perfectly - they were both recorded in the same space, by the same players. This means that when you switch articulations, it'll do so seamlessly and naturally. :)

Isolate the built-in CSR reverb
Not sure if anyone's noticed this yet, but the built-in send reverb (based on IK's upcoming CSR) returns on the first stereo output (1+2) from Philharmonik. This means that if you configure all your instruments to any output except 1+2, then the only sound coming out from 1+2 will be the send reverb.

Once you've had enough of soloing that output and just listening the beautiful lush reverb, you'll probably start to think of all the cool things you can do with this in a mix. It's basically a dedicated reverb return, and you can have a lot more control over the reverb sound than just the tail length. For example, you could eq the reverb and boost or cut the high end to give the hall different acoustics. More high end will make it sound like there are more flat, hard surfaces; and less high end will make it sound like there are more irregular soft objects like curtains or people. Another thing you can do is compress it reverb and bring up the level for a gorgeous washed out new age sound. Let me tell you - it's especially awesome with the female "Ah" choirs. Enigma eat your heart out!

Last edited by Kim Lajoie on Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Using the built in effects routing system to implement group-based processing
This can be used for dramatic effect when using orchestral colours in a modern context (with other non-orchestral instruments).

1) Load a handful of instruments
2) Load a lofi effect into one of the send effects slots
3) Raise the send level to the lofi effect for each of the loaded instruments
4) Set the instruments to output to 3+4, so that 1+2 only has the effects output

Now, if you set the main volume for all the instruments to zero, then all you'll hear is all the instruments bussed through the lofi effect. Alternatively, you can mute the 3+4 output in your sequencer for the same result, and then easily switch between "full orchestra" and "lofi orchestra" by simply muting an unmuting 1+2 and 3+4.

Of course, you can substitute the lofi effect for any effect that you might want to send a group of instruments through. Phonograph for an old vinyl feel, Tube Tone Control for a hifi "pop" sound, Speaker Cabinet for a murky dark flavour.

Using the per-channel EQ to modify the character of the sound
Each and every instrument has onboard EQ and compression available to it. The EQ is very useful for adjusting the character of a sound. For example, increasing the high end of a string section can bring out more air or bow noise, or increasing the lower mids will give the sound more warmth. This is a trick that can easily be done with external plugins, but having EQ built into Philharmonik makes it very easy to do, without having to spend time setting up multiple outputs. Using the built-in eq also has the advantage of allowing you to save the setting back as a child preset, which means you can restore them easily anytime in the future.

Last edited by Kim Lajoie on Sun Sep 25, 2005 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Multi-stage orchestral arranging

With the variety of material available in Philharmonik, it's possible to take a multi-stage approach to orchestral arranging and composing.

Stage one
This is like a very rough sketch. Use only a few instruments - the section ensembles in the "Orchestral Sections" folder. For example, you might load up a string ensemble patch and a brass ensemble patch. Then work out the whole piece using just those patches - just to get a feel for basic dimensions of the arranging, such as harmonic structure, note density, rhythm, etc. The idea is to use the section ensembles to experiment with different compositional approaches in a very quick manner, without having to get bogged down in changing tracks or fine-tweaking note parameters. The section ensembles are partularly useful because it's very easy to hear the the whole section simply by playing on the keyboard. This makes it very quick to do things like try out different harmonic approaches without spending time sequencing on four or five tracks before being able to hear it.

Stage two
This time, focus on part writing and load a single instrument for each part you expect to write for. For example, for a regular string section, load two violin parts, one viola, one 'cello, and one bass. At this stage, don't worry about multiple articulations or expression. Focus only on expanding the stage one sketch into multiple parts. Stage two is for getting the voicing sorted out - working out which instrument plays what part.

Stage three
This is where you get into the nitty gritty of expression and articulation. Each part will typically expand to at least three articulations - staccato, detache, and legato. Strings might also have pizzicato. This is also the time to get into details with MIDI parameters such as velocity and modwheel. Go through each phrase in detail, and work on the articulation for each note so that the phrases have a natural "alive" feel. This is also the time to doctor the timing - make sure that any note overlaps sound exactly right. You might need to adjust the attack or release time for the instrument to get the flow just right.

Although this method may be a bit more time-consuming, it's an excellent way to approach composition without missing the forest for the trees (spending too much time on articulation and failing to spend time making an interesting arrangement, or spending too much time on arrangement and neglecting to give the articulation and expression the love it needs).



I've been playing a bit with the sounds in miroslav. One thing i've found is that you can kind of bring it out of its shell a bit. I've read in a few places that its potentially more suited to more subdued types of music. I've been playing around and you can really bring out some sharpness to the instruments with some exciters. I've tried it with a few different ones (Camelspace, spectralive and a couple other no namers) and some of the solo instruments seem to come right into the room with you.

give it a shot.



Good stuff guys. Here's one that is from left field. Remember that Miroslav Philharmonik uses an engine that is more advanced than the current SampleTank 2 engine. It has the new Stretch and PS/TS in it. You'll notice that there are some extra parameters you haven't seen before such as Harmonic Preservation and Grain. These are really COOL! They are useful for dialing in more realism by ear but they are also good for sound design effects. Using the orchestral sounds and elements as source through the DSP effects and some tweaking of parameters like tempo and grain of PS/TS can yeild some wicked results (very UN-orchestral but great for film and for electronic music). Try it. Take something like the harp glisses in the element section.

Oh, here's another tip (in fact, I just did a video that is coming out with a bunch of tips) in the percussion elements section where you have one sample stretched across the keyboard, try using the "PScale" macro knob to adjust positive or negative key tracking. It's even a cool real time effect that you can control with the modwheel or CC. Have fun!


For expressive legato lines, I've had good results by doing the following:
  1. Click the "Velocity" button, and set all the velocity controls to zero. Make sure velocity doesn't affect the note's volume.
  2. If you're not using an AMV patch, assign modwheel (CC1) to the "Swell" macro. Depending on the dynamic range you want, set the range to 50-120, or sometimes I prefer only 100-120.
  3. Turn the velocity -> sample start macro to maximum.
Following this, the modwheel will be the only way to control the phrasing. This allows you to freely perform swells and expression that flows with the music. This is much more natural than a piano-style approach of each note having a set volume (which doesn't make sense a lot of the time for instruments families such as strings or woodwinds).

So now that we're controlling phrasing and expression with the modwheel, what can we do with velocity? By setting velocity to control the sample start point, we control the amount of expression on the attack of the note. This means that notes at the start of a phrase, or notes requiring an expressive attack can be performed with a high velocity, and "joining" notes can be performed with a lower velocity. By skipping the expressive attack, the joining notes will flow into each other a lot smoother and create a more convincing legato.

Both these techniques (modwheel expression, and velocity->sample start) greatly reduces the "give-away" sound sometimes associated with using samples to simulate an orchestra.



If you're using Philharmonik in a pop or other similar modern context, you might find that the lovely warm orchestral sound is a bit too warm. Rather than using EQ to boost the highs, next time try subtractive eq - make a wide scoop around 200Hz, about 6-9db deep. Once you make the corresponding gain adjustment to make up the level, you should hear a clear, natural sound that blends well in a modern pop context.



Caleb wrote:Some sequencers allow you to change midi channels by note or clip which will make it easier to sequence multiple articulations in a single track.
Indeed - this is a good way to manage many articulations of a single instrument without your project timeline becoming (more) massive. It's a partiularly good idea to take this approach when you have an instrument that will be changing articulations very frequently (as much as note-by-note!).

I weas originally going to post this tip in regards to managing the choir syllables. You could load up eight or twelve syllables, and use the MIDI channel associated with each individual note to choose which syllable that note will be "sung" with. This is a much cleaner (and faster!) approach than having twelve separate MIDI tracks in your sequencer, and having to switch between them on a note-by-note basis!

One thing to remember though - most sequencers have a MIDI channel setting for the whole MIDI track. This usually forces every note on that track to be played through that MIDI channel. To use this tip, you'll need to deactivate that feature for the track you're working on. In Cubase, I can set the MIDI channel for a track to "Any" (instead of a specific channel 1-16). This is probably a similar setting for other hosts such as Logic and Sonar.



Kim (esoundz) wrote:[2] If you're not using an AMV patch, assign modwheel (CC1) to the "Swell" macro. Depending on the dynamic range you want, set the range to 50-120, or sometimes I prefer only 100-120.
Kim I'm having trouble with step 2. I'm trying this with the Flute 1 but I can't figure out how to assign CC1 to control the volume parameter. When I open the MIDI Control Wndow it says "N/A" and I can't set the MIDI CC parameter.

Can you explain this step in more detail please?




Try this:
  1. View the "Macro" controls - usually "Swell", "VSpeed", "ATPush", and "VStart".
  2. Click "CTL" at the top of the plugin window
  3. Click the "Swell" knob
  4. Click and drag up where it says "n/a" (in the "Controller number" column)
Hope that helps. :)



Thanks Kim, I missed the "click and drag up" part. Sorry about the double posting but I'm glad its documented here too for other users.

And yes, it helps very much! :)


Those are a couple things I applied with Philharmonik:

- Layering: I often layer instruments to obtain "composite sounds". For example I always use some solo strings over sections to simulate a couple of violins out of the choir. Also I do layer horns ff sections with same articulation on solo horn, to have a bigger sound

- If you use keyboard to play parts, tune velocity to suit your needs: I used to increase velocity on instruments (from 25 to 40-45) to achieve more hard responsiveness. It works for me and it is very easy to do.

- Adding some compression on timpani and some other percs gives them more punch when needed

- By default I load all AMW (when available) instruments into my setup to be able to draw expression things while playing with modulation wheel

small things, I'm still early as well, and having fun :)

Dream Audio Tools - Sample libraries
Archisounds - Music Website


Sorry about the delay guys, I've had a heavy couple of weeks... anyway, a couple of tips:

Brass Swells are Cool
To get a really dynamic brass swell, load up a fortissimo (ff) brass instrument, and configure modwheel to control swell. Now, also configure modwheel to adjust the filter cutoff. I find the 12db filter to be the best compromise between sharpness and naturalness. Reduce the resonance or the modwheel->filter amount if it sounds too synthy. You can hear this in action in my piece High Roller, at about 1:43 and 4:06 (they're a bit hidden behind the guitars though).

The filter makes the swell more realistic, because unlike strings, the timbre of brass instruments changes dramatically from very dark to very bright. By assigning modwheel to control brightness and volume simultaneously, you can perform expressive brass swells that perfectly suit your music.

Philharmonik has a lot of non-standard percussion
Seriously, have a look through the percussion section of Philharmoinik when you get the chance. There's a real selection of instruments like different kinds of bells (including a boat bell!), bongos, castanets, claps, metal plates, wood heads, etc. This kind of stuff is perfect for doing "tribal" or "forest" style film scores!



bump. Useful topic, I wish it were sticky.


Kim (esoundz) wrote:For expressive legato lines, I've had good results by doing the following:
  1. Click the "Velocity" button, and set all the velocity controls to zero. Make sure velocity doesn't affect the note's volume.
  2. If you're not using an AMV patch, assign modwheel (CC1) to the "Swell" macro. Depending on the dynamic range you want, set the range to 50-120, or sometimes I prefer only 100-120.
  3. Turn the velocity -> sample start macro to maximum.
By setting velocity to control the sample start point, we control the amount of expression on the attack of the note.

Can you explain this in a little more detail please, I'm finding it hard to follow and apply to my currently badly sounding (through my programming) solo Cello line.

e.g. How do you make the velocity not affect the volume?

"Turn the velocity -> sample start macro to maximum.

Turn the what to the what?

"By setting velocity to control the sample start point" and how do I do that?

I've read your article in relation to the manual and I can't see how the descriptions of each paramater relates to your instructions.

Rolla "Thicky" soc

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